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Showing NFL Football Games in Church

5 October 2017

Copyright law is a many-splendored field.

The following has nothing to do with books, but discusses an obscure and interesting (at least for PG) corner of copyright law.

From Plagiarism Today:

Churches host Super Bowl viewing parties as a family friendly and dynamic evangelistic opportunity to reach out to their community, but what about copyright issues and potential infringement problems?

Churches can host Super Bowl parties without fear of penalties and interference from the NFL for copyright infringement…IF they stay within certain boundaries. Recently, we asked the NFL about regular season games and playoffs. They gave the green light as long as churches follow the same guidelines outlined for the Super Bowl.

. . . .

CCS: What is the NFL’s policies regarding showing regular season games and playoff games during the season? Does your policy only apply to the Super Bowl?

NFL: It is acceptable for churches to follow the same guidelines throughout the season if they want to watch regular season games at their church.

CCS: Many churches enjoy gathering together to watch the football every year, but are unsure about necessary steps that must be taken in order to stay copyright compliant when doing so. What requirements must a church meet in order to host a “viewing party?”

NFL: If a church holds a “viewing party” in its usual place of worship and does not charge a fee for attending, the NFL will not object.

A key point in the NFL’s response to churches is its allowance of a viewing party in the “usual place of worship.” This is an important qualification to understand. We understand that many churches do not have a typical church campus and may use rented public spaces to conduct worship services. Here is the NFL’s position on these situations:

CCS: Many churches hold regular services in rented spaces (i.e. convention centers, hotel conference centers, movie theaters, and school auditoriums). Does your previously mentioned statement regarding “usual place of worship” also apply to churches in these situations?

NFL: No, the NFL’s grant of permission is with respect to the church property (not rented spaces).

. . . .

There are some important rules to follow to avoid being tackled with risks of copyright infringement:

  1. Churches must show the game live on equipment they use in the course of ministry at their premises.
  2. Churches cannot charge admission for the party. The NFL has stated, however, that churches may take up a donation to defray the cost of the event.
  3. Churches must not use NFL Shield, Super Bowl or Club logos to promote the party.

The NFL has the right to put restrictions on how churches and other establishments show the games because the broadcasts, like all televised programs, are protected by copyright law. The U.S. Copyright Act specifically restricts public establishments from transmitting broadcasts on TV screens larger than 55” without paying license fees to the copyright owner. In this case, the NFL owns the rights to show the live TV broadcast of the game.

Link to the rest at Plagiarism Today

CCS in the OP refers to Christian Copyright Solutions.

CCS describes its mission, in part, as follows:

CCS is a leading authority on church music copyrights, providing simple music licensing solutions and clear educational resources. CCS is the only Christian company to partner with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (U.S. performance rights organizations) to offer one-stop performance licenses that allow religious organizations to legally play, perform and stream more than 20 million Christian, holiday and secular songs of all genres.

Copyright/Intellectual Property

7 Comments to “Showing NFL Football Games in Church”

  1. Church football parties have been a thing for a long time. One of the first satellite TV dishes in the area popped up on the roof of the local LDS church circa 1980 or so, expressly for the purpose of watching sports programs.

  2. Heh, if the NFL thinks their viewership is down now, just wait until they get the church groups mad at them! 😉

    • So far as I know, no church has yet opened a cash bar, or encouraged orgies.

      Although that could simply be my ignorance of what is going on, as an agnostic. After all, there is at least one being led by a self-proclaimed atheist…


      • So far as I know, no church has yet opened a cash bar, or encouraged orgies.

        The Church of All Worlds (CAW) patterned itself after the church described in Stranger in a Strange Land. I, too, am ignorant of their practices, so I can neither confirm nor deny that the CAW runs a cash bar or hosts orgies.

        • You were thinking of the Fosterite Church with the football games. The one that the Man From Mars founded doesn’t mention that they had a bar or showed the games. (Orgies, yes, in the “inner circles.”)

        • I see also that they wandered completely away from any of the concepts in Stranger soon after their founding (if they ever had anything, that is, beyond “water sharing” and “nine circles”).

          Wherever he is, I’m sure RAH is relieved. They were a rather major annoyance, apparently – as well as a security concern, seeing how fast most of those cults from the 1960s went completely off the rails.

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